How to “Own the Room” in Any Presentation

own the roomHave you ever “owned a room?” I don’t mean in terms of actual real estate, but rather in terms of mental real estate?

If you have, you’ll never forget the feeling of having every eye in the room on you, people practically breathing along with you. I think that’s what they mean when they say having them “eating out of your hand.” Now, have you ever completely lost control of the room? As you look around, eyes are glazed over, people sneaking peeks at their smart phones and mobile devices or just typing on their computers (and you know they aren’t taking copious notes). Even worse, executives throwing twenty questions at you and you having that sick, squirmy feeling inside?

If you’ve spent any time at all in the world of business, you’ve probably had both of these experiences and wondered how in the world the same person could create two completely opposite experiences. One answer is to simply say that it’s a function of the audience, and in some ways it is. But like most things in this world, the experience we create for our listeners is really in our own hands.

What I didn’t realize, until I read “Own the Room: Discover your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence,” is that we can control the outcome of any conversation and any presentation. WE are in control.

What authors Amy Jen Su (@AmyJenSu) and Muriel Maignan Wilkins (@MaignanWilkins) clearly point out in their new book is that you can power up your career and leadership cred by simply mastering your “Signature Voice” that is uniquely your own and can be adapted to any situation. This signature voice comes from aligning your beliefs, your communication skills and your physical energy with the needs of your audience.

For example, there are what I’d call “doing” conversations and “leading” conversations. And you have to be very clear about which conversation you are having. If you are the team or project leader giving an update to the management team a “Leading” conversation is required because you are speaking up to a leadership audience. Their information needs are different AND they are looking at YOU as the leader in the situation. Hence, they expect you to communicate as a leader would.

The Authors Speak From Personal Experience

I heard about the book from a publicist and requested a review copy based purely on the title. I mean, if there is a process out there where I can get people eating out of my hands, I want to know about it.

The authors, Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, are the owners and managing partners of Asis Associates, an executive training and coaching firm. Both are sought after speakers on the topic of leadership presence and communications. Both have had personal experience in this area. Amy was told that she needed to toughen up. She was perceived as being too young and passive to be considered as “leadership material.” On the other hand, Muriel was told that she had to turn her bold personality down a notch.

Amy and Muriel took their personal experiences and work to transform their communication style and turned it into a process and a book that you can use to learn how to leverage your strengths and gain the high-powered presence you need to reach your full potential as a leader.

How to Become an A-C-E in Your Field

The authors have developed a powerful model to help you become a power communicator.  It’s called A-C-E:

A – Assumptions you make and the mindset you bring to your interactions with others.

C – Communication Strategies – Techniques and tools you use to engage influence and inspire.

E – Energy and Expression – How you physically show up; how your nonverbal cues impact others.

You will learn from the examples of well-known people like:

  • Christine Day, CEO of Lulemon Athletica, whose authenticity helped her grow her company’s market share to become the largest yoga outfitter in the world.
  • Al Gore, who was known for his robotic style who then transformed his presence to one of warmth, poise and passion for the environment.
  • Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP at the time of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, who was skewered for his insensitivity when he failed to adapt his communication style to the crisis.

But the book also includes those unsung leaders in organizations like yours who are all dealing with the same communication challenges.

You won’t just learn from their stories, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the process for yourself by using their diagnostic tool to assess your current and ongoing presence and how others perceive you.

“Own the Room” is a Much-Needed Book

While there are many books on how to give powerful presentations, “Own the Room” is about how to have appropriate communications while not losing yourself in the process. One observation I had as I read through many of the examples is that the style was a little more “corporate-speak” than I’m used to in the world of small business. But don’t let that stop you from taking the authors’ message to heart.

This is a book that is as applicable to small business owners who sell to more corporate clients as well as to employees who are looking to move into leadership positions.

4 Comments ▼

Ivana Taylor - Book Editor


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is Book Editor for Small Business Trends and publisher of DIYMarketers , where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is the President of Third Force, Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in getting your ideal customer to choose you. Ivana is the book editor for Small Business Trends and co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."

4 Reactions

  1. Great review Ivana! I like how the authors’ point about a signature voice, particularly as social media has invited a lot of voices that can potentially drown out a passive marketing voice (which is ironic, since so much of the social media advice mentions to downplay a direct sell message in a platform). I like the acronym as a reminder of how a message is important.

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